As the House Rules Committee decides on amendments for Trumpcare this week, it is essential that Republicans come clean about why they are giving themselves a pass on having coverage under their own bill at the same time they are giving themselves substantial new tax benefits.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare,” requires that members of the Senate, the House, and congressional staff all exclusively get their health insurance coverage through the marketplaces created by the law. The requirement became part of the ACA through an amendment written by Sen. Chuck Grassley and former Sen. Tom Coburn that the Democratic congressional leadership endorsed
This provision was a major accountability measure that put members of Congress and their staffs on par with the American people when it comes to health care, and it was a testament to supporters’ faith in the quality of the exchanges were being made available to the public.
Given that history, it is deeply concerning that the proposed replacement for the ACA, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), or “Trumpcare” has no such requirement for members of Congress to obtain their health care through this bill.
What makes this lack of accountability for members of Congress worse under Trumpcare is that the White House itself has now estimated the bill would cost 26 million Americans their health insurance. The CBO and other organizations have also projected that Trumpcare would significantly increase health care costs for seniors, for Americans in rural areas, and for people who earn less than average.
This also comes as the American Association of Retired Persons, the American Medical Association, the American Nursing Association, the American Hospital Association, and many other organizations have expressed strong opposition to Trumpcare.
Moreover, the Kaiser Family Foundation has determined that individuals who earn as much as members of Congress would see a surge of new tax credits is Trumpcare becomes law.
Recently, when Speaker Paul Ryan was asked during a press conference why members of Congress were not being obligated to have coverage through Trumpcare, he said, “I haven’t given any thought to that.”
American Bridge President Jessica Mackler issued the following statement:
“Trumpcare would take health insurance away from 26 million Americans and increase costs for the elderly, rural Americans, and working families across the country – all to give the wealthiest Americans hundreds of billions of dollars in new tax breaks. Every member of Congress owes the American people an answer – just what would Trumpcare mean for your own care, if you aren’t required to be on it?”
Speaker Ryan said he has not “given any thought” to how members of Congress would get health insurance after passage of Trumpcare:
Press Conference by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, 3/17/2017:
QUESTION: The repeal bill is silent on where members of Congress should get their health insurance (inaudible) market (inaudible) Obamacare. Where do you think members should get their insurance?
RYAN: I haven’t given thought to that. I don’t know the answer. I — when you get rid of Obamacare, you don’t have Obamacare. We have Obamacare. We wouldn’t have Obamacare.